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The Pond

turtles

Of utmost importance and pride for Scout Lodge supporters is the enhancement and preservation of wildlife and waterfowl habitat—most notably our claim to fame—one of Oregon’s largest concentrations of the Western Pond Turtle, a threatened species.

We have embarked upon a new project involving the stewardship of our 20-acre pond and the acreage around the pond. As some of you may already know, we have one of the largest populations of the Western Pond Turtle in Oregon (this is good). We also have a very large population of invasive Bull Frogs (this is not good). Bull Frogs eat Pond Turtle hatchlings. We plan to correct that imbalance.

Jarod Jebousek, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Karen Fleck Harding, of the Marys River Watershed Council, look over the changes being made to the north berm of the Scout Lodge Pond. The changes will improve access and nesting sites for Western pond turtles that live in the pond.

We are working with the Marys River Watershed Council, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, consultants, and private landowners to facilitate a Newton Creek Wetlands Management Plan. Just what have we done, and what will be done in the future?

There remained a very large amount of deteriorating plastic in Scout Pond, left from prior mitigation efforts (before we purchased the land). This poses a hazard of entrapment to aquatic wildlife. To remove the plastic, we drained the pond and tackled the tough and tedious job of removing the plastic.

Next came the restructuring of the levees. The previous levee system was extremely overbuilt for current water storage, and provides little quality native habitat with its steep banks. Re-contouring the levees created more gradual slopes where native vegetation was reestablished, allowed for periodic mowing to maintain habitat, and provided a wider top surface with greater
accessibility for an interpretive trail system.

The Marys River Watershed Council is working with the Scout Lodge and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to make some improvements on the pond at the Scout Lodge site. They’ll be reshaping the north berm to improve access and nesting sites for Western pond turtles that live in the pond

The north side of the pond is dedicated as a protected area with quality nesting habitat for the Western Pond Turtles, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

In the future, the south side of the pond will include a recreation area for swimming, fishing, and launching canoes and rowboats. Somewhere in the middle of the pond will be a small island for both recreation and wildlife habitat.

And let’s not forget the north end of the pond, the current home of the American Beavers. We will have a program in place to control the invasive plants such as the False Brome, Japanese Knotweed, Blackberries, and more. The program will also address the bull frog population. We will have an opportunity to construct wildlife viewing blinds for observation and monitoring of birds, reptiles and amphibians. We foresee having educational kiosks installed around the pond and along the hiking trails.

Yes, we could use some expert trail builders also. If you are interested in volunteering in this great adventure, please contact Dennis Johanson, 541-929-7619. There will be many phases to this endeavor. This project would not have been possible without the guidance, help and support of Karen Fleck Harding, Steve Smith, Chuck Lane and many other volunteer experts.

Philomath pond improved as turtle habitat
August 06, 2014 6:45 am • By Anthony Rimel, Corvallis Gazette-Times

PHILOMATH — One of Oregon’s two native species of turtles will have new habitat to nest in on the Philomath Scout Lodge property, thanks to a $25,000 earth-moving project going on this week.
The project, a collaboration between the lodge, the Marys River Watershed Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, aims to create new nesting ground for the Western pond turtle by making berms around the pond less steep.
Jarod Jebousek, a biologist with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said the steepness of the banks around the pond at the Scout Lodge limited the nesting ground available for the turtles. He said the turtles prefer to nest on more gradual slopes with lots of sun exposure.
Work by a bulldozer and an excavator began at the site Monday, and should be finished this week. In addition to the earth reshaping, the work will include the creation of peninsulas in the pond for youth to fish from; the plan is that these peninsulas eventually will be accessible to the disabled. The grounds involved were cleared of blackberry plants before work began this week and will be reseeded with native grasses. The Scout Lodge also plans to have educational signs to teach people about the native turtles.
Jebousek said that human development has caused declines in Western pond turtle populations. The species is not designated an endangered species, but it is listed as critical on Oregon’s sensitive species list.
“The service saw this as a great opportunity to partner with these nonprofits to improve wildlife habitat and provide outdoor education and recreational opportunities to local youth,” he said.
Karen Fleck Harding, landowner partnership coordinator for the Marys River Watershed Council, said that the project began more than five years ago with a study of the turtles already at the site.
The study concluded that a lack of nesting area was preventing a sustainable population at the site, she said.
“Build it and they will come,” she said.
Although the reshaped ground is theoretically better terrain for the Western pond turtle, the species has a long life cycle and Harding said the impacts of the restoration work may not be immediately obvious. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Western pond turtles can live more than 30 years in the wild. Harding said the project has received $10,000 in Oregon lottery funds, $10,000 from the Fish & Wildlife Service, and $5,000 from the Willamette Habitat Restoration Fund.
Jebousek said it is nice to see the project get to this point, but the real reward would be seeing turtle nests on the reworked ground.
Dale Doig, the Scout Lodge’s representative to the project, said the lodge participated because of its role as a youth education organization. He said the project allows the lodge to be a good steward of the land while opening up the site so that youths can have more access to it.
“It’s great to see it happen,” he said Tuesday.
The Scout Lodge is accepting contributions to support the educational signs and ramp for the disabled that are planned for the site. For information about contributing, see www.philomathscoutlodge.org, or call 541-929-7619.